Our site has moved to: familytimescny.com


Frightful Festivities

Does the prospect of Halloween strike fear into your heart? Don’t be afraid; be prepared—to have fun.

What makes the spookiest holiday so suitable for a celebration? Your theme is all ready for you. And hosting the ultimate costume party is not difficult if you let your imagination run wild.

One of my daughters was born on Halloween, so I know how to have a great get-together without stress. I’ve discovered children of all ages can help out and enjoy these activities and games.

Here’s how to get started.

A day or two before the party, have little ones make decorations out of molding clay—such as the Fimo brand—that, when baked, turn into practical art. Most craft stores have this inexpensive dough, in every imaginable color. Make spiders, pumpkins and witches’ hats freehand, or use Play-Doh molds or even cookie cutters.

Or press the clay over their palms to make creepy disembodied hands to hold candy.

Glowing eyes. Save a stash of empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls. Have your helpers cut out eyes and maybe a mouth or two. Just before the party starts, break a colored glow stick (purchased from the dollar store) for each and place inside. Put these decorations in dark places such as outside in a shrub, by the front door, in the bathroom (like a night light!) or in a dimly lit corner of the party room.


The day of the event, have your kids make pretzel wands. Buy large pretzel rods and roll one end in chocolate frosting, then in mini M&Ms or sprinkles. Set the “loaded” side up in a heavy festive glass. (Just be sure the wand makers don’t scarf them all down before the party starts.)

Edible eyeballs. These can be made a day ahead. Deviled eggs are simple enough for the most inexperienced cook. (I saw this recipe on The Today Show.) Mix hard-boiled egg yolks with mayonnaise to taste, then add one or two drops of green food coloring before spooning the dollop in the egg white. Place a green or black olive slice in the middle and use a toothpick to draw red squiggles with food coloring on the sides. Gross and yummy at the same time!


Keeping kids busy allows adults at the party to mingle, at least for a little while. Items for activities should be purchased a week or more in advance, to make sure you have everything you need. And if you want to order things online, you need to allow for shipping time, so you should let your fingers do the searching right away!

In late September and October, various stores such as Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft, and even Target typically stock Halloween craft kits such as masks kids can decorate with foam stickers. Usually a kit includes a dozen or so masks--or sheets of foam—and some stickers for less than $10. Offer more options by buying additional stickers at a dollar store. (Other foam sticker kit possiblities are bats, spiders or pumpkins.)

Last year a mask-making kit kept my four kids, their cousins and friends, ages 3 to 15, busy for more than an hour, with no messy glue or scissors. (The only problem with this activity might be finding the little stickers on the bottom of your socks later. I had them on mine for weeks, but it was totally worth it.)

Get the kids moving with a short M&M relay race, and encourage the parents to join in. Split the group into two teams and equip each with a plastic straw. Place two chairs about eight feet apart with an empty bowl on one end and a bowl with regular sized M&Ms on the other. Have each person “suck” up the candy at the end of the straw (it’s impossible to actually inhale the candy—so no worries) and—while keeping the suction—run to drop it into the empty bowl. Set a timer or have the teams race against each other. Give out inexpensive prizes such as Hot Wheels cars or hair accessories.

Next, have a contest to decorate small pie pumpkins or gourds with permanent markers such as Sharpies. Pumpkins make great canvases for creativity. Don’t forget ribbons or other prizes for everyone.

Halloween is a time for entertaining and enjoying the season with the kids. Take off the grown-up mask for a little while and get your spooky on.

Laura Livingston Snyder is a writer and mother of four who lives north of Syracuse. She blogs at nestingdolll.blogspot.com. Send email to her at editorial@familytimes.biz.

Photo above: Laura Livingston Snyder Photo

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York